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Mpox Vaccine Now Open To Everyone In LA, No Questions Asked

Signs point to where to line up to receive the monkeypox vaccine at DTLA Proud an LGBTQ+ festival.
Mpox vaccinations were available at DTLA Proud, an LGBTQ+ festival.
(Jackie Fortiér
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Anyone who wants to be vaccinated against mpox can now receive the shots, regardless of their sexual history or personal risk, county health officials said on Thursday.

“This is a change in policy which will allow more people to be able to access the vaccine without questions asked,” said Andrea Kim, director of vaccine preventable disease control at Los Angeles County Public Health.

Why Was The Vaccine Restricted?

The ongoing international mpox outbreakthat began in May sent countries scrambling to contain the spread. Attention turned to the two-dose Jynneos vaccine, which was first designed to protect against smallpox.

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Mpox and smallpox are genetically similar, and federal health officials believed Jynneos could protect from mpox and gave the green light to inoculate high risk people in the U.S. But only one company made the vaccine — and the whole world wanted it.

To get the limited number of precious doses into the arms of high risk people, public health departments across the country heavily restricted who could receive doses. In L.A. County, it led to hours-long waits in lines at public health sites. As more and more vaccine doses were manufactured and shipped, eligibility gradually opened up.

Are People Still Contracting Mpox?

Yes, but it’s much lower than in August when the outbreak peaked in L.A. In total 2,420 people have tested positive countywide, and two people have died. A few people are still testing positive each week, but there are more and more days of zero cases. The majority of cases are among men who have sex with men, though women and children have also contracted mpox.

Should I Get Vaccinated Against Mpox?

Maybe. Talk to your health provider, especially if you are in these higher risk groups:

  • Any man or transgender person who has sex with men or transgender persons
  • Persons of any gender or sexual orientation who engage in commercial and/or transactional sex or have sex in association with a large public event
  • Persons living with HIV, especially persons with uncontrolled or advanced HIV disease
  • Persons who had skin-to-skin or intimate contact with someone with suspected or confirmed mpox, including those who have not yet been confirmed by Public Health
  • Sexual partners of people in any of the above groups
  • People who anticipate being in any of the above groups

You can find public health sites that offer the vaccine for free here.

Thousands Vaccinated

More than 74,000 people have received at least one dose of the Jynneos vaccine in L.A. County, and half that number received both doses, meaning they are fully vaccinated. The CDC has been evaluating how well the Jynneos vaccine works against mpox, and found it helped curb the outbreak in the U.S. A CDC analysis released in Decembershowed that unvaccinated people were 9.6 times more likely than fully vaccinated people to develop mpox.

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What questions do you have about the pandemic and health care?
Jackie Fortiér helps Southern Californians understand the pandemic by identifying what's working and what's not in our health response.

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